Call it a sign of the times. When Melinda Lewis owner of Get Togetha, a lifestyle company, started her business last June, she began the accompanying blog at the same time. The blog was not an afterthought or simply a way to market product and services, Lewis’ blog is an integral part of the business itself and she planned it this way.
“I knew that blogging would have to be part of a 21st century solution to new business and new ways of doing business,” Lewis said in an interview with TNJ.com. The Get Togetha blog, according to Lewis, is an extension of the business and a space where people can get familiar with the business owner. Also she believes the blog creates an atmosphere around what the business is all about.
Lewis, a former classroom teacher, says blogging revolutionizes business because it puts the business owner in closer touch with their customer base. “Customers have so many choices and options now that everything is online,” said Lewis. “Companies have to have a face, particularly if they’re a small business.”
Without a doubt as Lewis points out blogs are changing the face of business. Writing in Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging, Andy Wibbels, who is an award winning blogger, reports that more than 70,000 new blogs are created each day with a million posts being added on a daily basis. A search of “African American” blogs on Blogged.com, a blog directory, reveals more than 3,000 blogs. And let’s not forget that in addition to Blogger, Wordpress and other sites that focus on blogs, many of the social networking sites including iZania, BlackPlanet and others also offer users a platform to blog. And with few exceptions the technology is simple to use and free.
“The blogosphere doubles in size every five months,” writes Wibbels, “allowing anyone, anywhere, in any language, to make their mark on the world—to share their ideas, passion and products.”
With her blog Lewis is sharing all three—ideas, passion and products. In an interview with Getemgirls.com Lewis described Get Togetha as a lifestyle company “with a bit of unorthodox thrown in for good measure.” Her products include conversation cards, which are forthcoming, as well as e-decorating and personal shopping services. The Get Togetha blog features tips on entertaining, home decor, food, handmade finds and Lewis’ personal reflections on what it means to live a quality life.
While blogs make excellent online diaries and information portals, here’s the big question for businesses: how can you make money from a blog? In Blogwild! Wibbels lists several ways to generate cash with a blog which include finding a sponsor, using affiliate sales opportunities and hosting ads.
Lewis says she uses affiliate ads and negotiated ads with smaller indie brands/services that don't have a lot of money for marketing and publicity.
A large percentage of blogs are started yet most end up abandoned, still those that survive create tremendous competition for the fledgling blog that’s trying to find it’s audience. The fact that the blogosphere is so huge is one the major challenges Lewis faces. “If you’re blogging about gossip, that’s overload because everyone is doing that,” said Lewis. Because her blog is different Lewis says she has to work extra hard to gain and keep the readers’ attention.
Over and over again Lewis emphasizes the fact that bloggers must be passionate about what they do. That is partly because a successful blog requires frequent updates. Lewis posts twice a day. “I think it’s not just about updating,” she said, “but really being original. That’s what keeps readers’ attention and that’s what creates community.”
For the most part it seems that the core of blogging is about making human connections through the internet. “Blogging is a way to chronicle not just the story of your business, but also the story of you,” writes Wibbels. “This is what customers everywhere want to hear, a simple, honest human voice.”
“People are not willing to give up their dollars to faceless companies,” says Lewis. “So blogging is just a part of establishing yourself as an expert at what you do.” That’s very important in building trust and according to Lewis that is the whole point of blogging as a business person. “You understand your customer by being the best at what you do…whether you’re a mechanic or you’re a DJ make sure people know that you know your stuff,” she said.
Melinda Lewis is a graduate of New York University where she studied Mass Media and Communications. She also earned a Master of Science in Education. She lives in Harlem, New York with her husband. In September she plans to launch Get Togetha's first downloadable e-book.
For more information visit http://www.gettogetha.com  and http://andywibbels.com .